Banana Pancakes, anyone?
17 April 2013 | 15 34'N:89 12'W, Lago Izabal, Guatemala
Hekla was relaunched on Thursday, April 11, and it was sure great to get out of that gritty place and back on the level with a breeze from the bow! On Friday afternoon, taking advantage of the afternoon winds, I sailed further west, into the pretty Lago Izabel. This is a large inland lake about 20 x 40 miles, at an altitude of 26 feet supposedly, with a few settlements around it. As in many places around Guatemala, security for boaters was told to be a concern, and I should favor the north shore especially Finca El Paraiso, which is where I went directly. Finca translates roughly to farmhouse or farm estate, and I found a nice resort on an operating farm. There are a several beach cabins, 3 restaurants, and numerous farm buildings. Here I met Bruce, an American working for one of the families, and he filled me in on a lot of local knowledge and things to do. First off was a visit to Cascada Caliente, that means Waterfall Hot. Yes, it is a hot springs area with the hot water falling into the cool pool and mixing there. It is a natural pool, in a beautiful jungle setting. Dare I say it surpasses the beauty of Strawberry Hot Springs? It does, however Strawberry gets marks for the snowfall experience, which won't happen here! At the entrance, there were a few young kids begging for coins; Bruce warned me about this and said to not give anything, this is training the kids for welfare. If they are selling things, well that's different, and he is trying to get them to sell river heart rocks (so far no success). There were a few adorable brown eyed girls selling banana pancakes, how could a person resist these? Quite good actually! Another highlight of the hot springs was a short hike to the mud pit, where I smeared completely with slightly smelly yellow mud, a natural detox and skin softener. I do have a picture of that...
Later I took a "colectivo" bus to town. The colectivo buses are privately operated mini-vans whose motto seems to be "if you need a ride we provide." After a couple stops, I thought the 10-passenger van was full, but there was a group of Mayan women and children at the next stop, 15 or so, and they all got on, a couple on the top. Impossible to take any picture there as I was crammed into the rear corner with a baby next to me cooing and pulling on my ear. The Mayan women are very short, and always wear beautiful embroidered dresses. One in particular I remember was intricate emerald green, with scarlet stitched patterns. Very elegant for people who basically live a subsistence lifestyle. In the rural town of El Estor, I got a haircut. The hispanic buzz cut really doesn't suit my fine, curly euro hair, may as well have shaved it. This brief inland tour of rural Guatemala was very interesting, illuminating. One unfortunate point is the smoky air, from burning corn fi elds in preparation for planting, and jungle plots in preparation for sugar cane planting.
My two week pass into Guatemala was expiring, so I made my way back to the sea, but only after negotiating the dreaded bridge again in the early morning, reassembling the mast, making a deposit at a marina for summer storage, and buying chocolate as a reward to not hitting the bridge. Now I am on a fast track of sorts to Mexico and then Florida. Currently I am enjoying an all-day sail behind the Belize reef, a non-stop, almost flat water power reach that I have never enjoyed for such a long stretch. Oh yeah, Hekla now moves along again at 10 knots with her smooth, clean bottom!